New Member’s Testimonies
by Kenneth Teo
I don’t remember the first time I heard the gospel, but I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I have vague recollections of my sister reading me children’s Bible stories and playing Sandi Patty songs for me. In an unquestioning way, I believed in all the things my sister told me about God and Jesus and therefore thought I was a Christian. However, it didn’t really have any significant impact on the way I lived my life. I didn’t attend church, I hardly read the Bible, rarely prayed and most tellingly, I was pretty much the centre of my own life. Perhaps being the youngest of four children, I felt I had something to prove. I was driven to enter the most prestigious programmes and schools that our education system had to offer, but often found myself on a rollercoaster between two extremes. When I succeeded I was proud, but when I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, I was despondent. Unconsciously, I had begun to develop an identity founded on performance, success, “having it together” and being well-liked for it. Clearly, I didn’t understand the gospel. I still thought I was a Christian though.
But that didn’t last very long. During my years in junior college, I went through a bit of a rough patch. The things that I built my identity on began to crumble, and in my immaturity and inflated sense of entitlement I blamed God for the unhappiness in my life. Most of the unhappiness came from what I can now see are relatively trivial things, like not doing well academically or in CCA, facing BGR issues and such like. But at that point, it felt like my whole world was crashing down. I remember that it reached a point when I asked myself, “Why do I even believe in God? Could it be that I only believe because I unthinkingly accepted everything my sister told me? What a poor reason to believe in God.” From that point on, I stopped believing that there was a God, or thinking that I was a Christian.
I spent the next 6 years in the ‘wilderness’, as it were. Through NS, and the first one and a half years of university, I became increasingly self-centred and proud. I left home after NS, moved into a residential hall in NUS and basically did whatever I wanted. I yearned for pleasure and chased the desires of my heart. I searched for wisdom and knowledge in what I now know are all the wrong places. But none of my pursuits left me satisfied. I felt that life was empty and meaningless, but did not think that there was anything that could be done about it. I wasn’t very happy, as you can imagine. But by God’s grace, I didn’t completely stop searching for an answer.
My eyes were finally opened to my own sin and wickedness nearing the end of the second year of university. In a rather poetic way, the same events that had afflicted me in JC took place again then. At first, I dismissed it as a cruel cosmic joke. But something in me questioned, “Did this happen again because of God or because of me?” Upon reflection, I realised that a lot of my problems were self-inflicted. They were brought about by my own pride, hubris and self-centredness. I became aware of various self-destructive patterns in my life, not least of all, the habit of blaming others for my problems. But most importantly, I was cut to the heart because I remembered the gospel that I had been told so long ago, and realised that I had spat in the face of the one true God, the creator of all things, who sent his precious only son Jesus to pay for my sins. I realised I deserved condemnation. To this day, every time I hear the line “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers”, I still feel a twinge of pain for my outspoken rejection of God. In my hostel room that day, I knelt and asked God to forgive me and help me to start again with Him at the centre, not me.
I began my journey as a Christian in a rather confused way, seeking God’s leading in my life but not knowing how. But I thank God that I eventually ended up at the Crossing Church (which my wife Shuyan would eventually follow me to) where I was taught to trust and rely on the authority and sufficiency of scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
As I read more of the Bible, I also grew in conviction that rather than being a fairy-tale, this was the true, historical story of God and His sovereign work in redeeming a fallen world. In God’s goodness, through faithful stewards of his Word, He continued to open my eyes to the wonderful truths of the gospel and helped me to die to my old sinful self.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)
God showed me that the Christian walk is not a solo journey centred on me and my needs, but one that we undertake together with the rest of God’s people, with Jesus as King.
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:18-22 ESV)
Joining LPPC wasn’t necessarily something my wife and I had foreseen because we were already in a loving and Bible-believing church. But in God’s providence, we decided to move here last year. Our pastor Denesh wasn’t able to preach at our wedding in March 2014, so he helpfully requested for Pastor Yuk Yee to support us. Yuk Yee kindly agreed to do it despite not knowing us. At first, we were just happy to have a trustworthy steward of God’s Word preach at our wedding. After all, we had invited more than a hundred students and colleagues (we are teachers, by the way) to the wedding, and the gospel had to be preached clearly and boldly to them. But as we got to know Yuk Yee and Karen, we started to become aware of the possibility of a deeper partnership. Could our involvement in school-based ministry with the NIE Christian Union possibly interface with the work going on in LPPC? Could we invite more of our students from the heartlands to LPPC? Could we involve some of the LPPC youth and young adults in the gospel camps we help organise? These are questions you could help us to answer as we work alongside you in ministry.
I thank God for how the saints at the Crossing ministered to me and my wife. As we complete the transfer to LPPC, I think it’s only fitting that we testify to the grace of God that we received at the Crossing. With the blessings and prayers of our brothers and sisters there, we have come to LPPC to partner with the saints here in reaching out to the Bishan community and to Kuo Chuan. We look forward to serving with you to reach people with the gospel for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.